The Mets general manager search still, officially, continues, and two candidates — Rays senior vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom and agent Brodie Van Wagenen — are still, officially, the candidates. The baseball media, however, seems to be coalescing around the idea that Van Wagenen will be named the Mets new GM.
Today Andy Martino of SNY reported that Van Wagenen was “in the lead,” and Jeff Passan of Yahoo, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com and Joel Sherman of the New York Post are saying or implying that Van Wagenen has been offered the job. It would appear that the Mets are giving him a few days to tie up his business loose ends before making things public.
Those loose ends would seem to be pretty significant: among his many clients, Van Wagenen represents Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Yoenis Cespedes, Todd Frazier and Tim Tebow. While Tebow is not a huge concern baseball wise, those other guys are all going to be subject to big decisions at one point or another by the front office Van Wagenen seems poised to lead. That could make for some awkward situations.
For example, back in July, Van Wagenen said publicly that deGrom was worthy of receiving a long-term contract extension from the Mets and if they wouldn’t do it, they should trade him. He’s arbitration eligible for the third time this offseason. Next month deGrom is likely to win the NL Cy Young Award, making him even more expensive. Does Van Wagenen have a tacit agreement with the Wilpons to give deGrom that contract of which he recently said his client was deserving, or does he take a hard line with deGrom in the way a GM might normally do? It’s an interesting question, which I would hope Van Wagenen, deGrom and the Wilpons have addressed privately already, but no matter what happens, it’d be reasonable to scrutinize the decision and the process which led to it. The same goes for any decisions Van Wagenen makes regarding any of his soon-to-be-former clients.
Last week Bill wrote about Scott Boras’ complaint that it would be a conflict of interest for any agent to take a GM job. I don’t agree with Boras on that necessarily, for the reasons Bill noted. There’s no rule against it. An agent, like Dave Stewart did when he went to the Diamondbacks, could divest his business. It’d be awkward for a while, but it’s not an inherent problem that applies to any and all situations in which an agent got a job in a front office.
Practically speaking, however, Van Wagenen’s hiring, which seems imminent, does raise at least some potential ethical issues given that he has multiple clients on the very team he’s about to take over. One hopes that he and the Wilpons have good answers to questions about them going forward.